updated 09:30 pm EDT, Mon April 23, 2012
3D program incorporates numerous changes
Autodesk has released a demo version of Maya 2013, originally released earlier this month, which is now available for 64-bit Intel Mac users running Snow Leopard (10.6.5 or higher) or Lion with a certified graphics card. The new version introduces numerous changes to the program, but has met with some criticism from users, who complain that Maya is not keeping up with the pace of changes set by competing programs such as Blender and Modo.
The venerable 3D program's modeling tools remain almost unchanged from previous versions, but the 2013 edition adds a considerable number of animation features, along with some additional tools for dynamics, effects and pipeline integration. Among the new animation features are heat map skinning, trax clip matching, ATOM animation transfer and graph editor enhancements, along with significant improvements in Human IK enhancements.
The 2013 edition also introduces Maya nHair (realistic hair generation) and bullet physics to the program. The Viewport feature has again been improved over the 2012 edition, and a new node editor and Alembic caching have been added to the production pipeline. The data- and scene-management tools have also been enhanced.
The Alembic caching will significantly improve workflow by passing complex scene data between various areas in the pipeline, as well as let users send scene data between Maya and 3ds Max. The Attribute editor now lets users load custom XML-based templates and create both custom views and attribute controls for specific nodes or nodetypes. In addition, file reference management has been improved, including the ability to edit animation curves within referenced files and perform referencing operations on multiple references, along with other improvements.
The minor changes to the modeling tools include improvements to the Extrude tool (now with thickness, offest and divisions values) and the addition of background colors for readability. Users can now use control and shift to more quickly adjust values, and the new brush "strength" slider in the Sculpt Geometry tool now offers the ability to adjust the amount of pinching applied during sculpting.
Maya 2013 sells for $3,500 and requires at least 4GB of RAM and a three-button mouse in addition to the processor and OS requirements above. There is an educational version of Maya for students that is free, but watermarks files (and cannot be used for commercial use at all) but is otherwise fully functional for up to 36 months.